Alzheimer’s disease involves a progressive loss of cognitive function. The underlying pathogenesis is a loss of neurons in the hippocampus, cortex, and subcortical structures of the brain. The disease is the most common form of dementing illness among middle-aged and older adults. Symptoms typically appear after age 60, although some early-onset forms of the disease are linked to specific genetic defects. Although the etiology is unknown, genetic factors play a role in 10% to 15% of cases.
Early disease stages show a loss of short-term memory, inability to learn new information, mood swings, difficulty in finding words, forgetting names, and losing items. Frustration, hostility, and irritability are common emotional features exhibited by patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
As the disease progresses, patients become incontinent, memory is lost, and sense of time and place disappears. Patients become dependent upon others and eventually require comprehensive care. Because of a patient’s total dependency upon others, placement in a nursing home with full-time nursing care often becomes necessary. Thus, Alzheimer’s disease presents a considerable problem in patient management, as well.
Ultimately, Alzheimer’s disease is fatal, and currently there is no cure or even a treatment that significantly slows progression of the disease. A 2014 study in Neurology described how under-reported the death rate has been; it is now recognized as a primary cause of death in the USA, on par with cancer and heart disease.
The financial cost of dealing with Alzheimer’s disease annually in the USA now exceeds $200 billion, and doesn’t include the emotional expense borne by the family members of those with Alzheimer’s disease, whose lives are irreparably compromised by this disease.
Every patient with Alzheimer’s disease dies with and because of the disease. At Muses Labs, we are working to change patient outcomes with a personalized combination therapy.